Minister Humphreys made the announcement, on 29th August following an extensive review of the Reasonable Accommodation Fund for People with Disabilities and the Awareness Support Scheme.
The Accommodation Fund for People with Disabilities provides financial support to individuals with disabilities and to employers who want to make their workplaces more inclusive and accessible. The Disability Awareness Support Scheme provides funding for disability awareness training for employees.
The review makes a number of important recommendations based on stakeholder feedback as part of the public consultation process. The review also draws on research and best practice from other countries. The report made nine recommendations:
- Combine both schemes and replace with a single flexible scheme.
- Simplify the application process.
- Provide approval-in-principle for employers and jobseekers to assist with planning.
- Extend the supports provided by the scheme to other employers – for example the community and voluntary sector and the commercial state-sponsored sector.
- Extend the supports provided by the Employee Retention Grant to new recruits and employees with pre-existing disabilities.
- Enhance the Disability Awareness Support Scheme to offer wider training that also includes employers who currently do not have an employee with a disability.
- Increase the number of support hours (interpreter, in-work support, etc) eligible for funding.
- Support funding for blended working and full-time working from home.
- Ensure extensive promotion of the reformed scheme
Humphreys’ declarations regarding the review were published here.
The report on the Review of the Reasonable Accommodation Fund and the Disability Awareness Support Scheme can be found here.
The Department of Social Protection will work over the coming months to implement the recommendations in the report and plan to have the updated scheme in place from Q1 2024.